Kununurra residents have been asked to check their properties for the aquatic weed, salvinia, after the invasive plant was discovered in the townsite recently.
Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is classed as a Weed of National Significance and is regarded as one of the most damaging aquatic weeds in Australia.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development biosecurity officer John Paul Slaven said while the salvinia had been removed and destroyed, it was important to ensure weed had not been transferred to other areas.
Mr Slaven said the local community and government had worked hard to eradicate a substantial infestation of salvinia from Lily Creek Lagoon 12 years ago.
“While this recent discovery has no links to the 2007 infestation, it is important to ensure there are no traces of the weed left,” he said.
“Salvinia poses a great risk to the local agriculture and tourism industries, as this aggressive plant can choke irrigation channels, make boat passage difficult and displaces native birds, plants and animals.”
Salvinia is a free-floating aquatic fern made up of pairs of oval, green to brown leaves, connected by a horizontal stem.
The top of each leaf has many tiny, hairlike structures that split then rejoin at the tips to form an eggbeater-like structure, while leaves beneath the water surface look like brown roots.
Mr Slaven said salvinia could easily be confused with native duck weed so it was best to photograph and report suspected sightings to the department so the plants could be correctly identified.
“It is important residents and businesses survey their properties promptly, particularly ponds and fish tanks, to avoid a repeat of the salvinia infestation of the past,” he said.
“This discovery is a good reminder not to empty any aquariums or fishponds into our water systems, as they can affect the native aquatic life and fish can spread disease and impact native fish stocks.
“It also highlights the need for the public to be cautious when buying plants online, as they could be weeds that end up having a detrimental impact on the environment.”
Any suspected sightings of salvinia should be reported to nearest department office or its Pest and Disease Information Service on (08) 9368 3080 or email@example.com
Digital reports can also be made using the MyPestGuide Reporter™ app and selecting the project MyWeedWatcher.
Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison
+61 (0)8 9368 3937